How to survive Christmas without overeating
The festive season is upon us, and it’s a challenging time for many of our clients who want to stick to their plans and maintain their hard-earned progress. To help you navigate through the holiday season, we've outlined two crucial action steps for you to implement – let's get planning!
Limiting your action points to just two keeps things not only realistic and achievable, but also allows you to focus on what’s important. So make these two actions a reality today, to have everything in place well before the holidays start.
1. Make a plan
If you have a health goal, you must have a roadmap. You know what they say, if you have no plan, how will you know what decisions to make? And believe it or not, every little thing you eat or drink starts as a decision, which in turn, starts as an emotion or thought.
Our executive decisions to eat (or not to eat) are often driven by how we feel – our emotions and associations. This can be dangerous and uncomfortable territory over the festive season, which is filled with strong emotions around past experiences, happy times and sad, traditions and nostalgia, and feelings of guilt and reward.
Christmas is about pleasure and connection, which we think is just as important as your physical health, so we’re not looking to deprive you. We’re looking to optimise the happiness, but without the extras that do nothing for you. It's about boundaries.
Choose two to four days over your holiday that will be a bit more free and gluttonous – but be specific. Which days and when? What makes you happy? Diarise them so you know exactly when they are, e.g. ‘brunch with friends’ on a particular date, TV time with the family, cinema and dinner with your partner on Boxing Day.
Decide what’s important to you over Christmas in terms of food. We all have a yearly tradition we’re not willing to compromise on. Which is it for you? Is it to have mince pies on Christmas Eve, or the cheeseboard on Christmas Day? Perhaps it's getting cosy with a film and enjoying your favourite chocolate on Boxing Day?
Take a moment to think about whether you can replace any of these with a healthier option this year. Do you need to eat so much/so many, or would you be satisfied if you only had one or two? Could you have some healthy additions to the cheeseboard, such as oat cakes, grapes or celery, and halve the amount of cheese? Decide how many you will have and when. Don’t be too restrictive, be realistic. Remember you’re planning your happy events here.
Now that you’ve made a plan – that’s it. You’ve established the food and events that are important to you and that make you happy, and you’re keeping these in. You have created a boundary, keeping all the other eating that perhaps doesn't make you that happy out. On all other days, therefore, eat how you would normally do outside of Christmas! Lots of real food, with plenty of vegetables. The result is a Christmas with food and the good times that you deserve but without the accumulative, mindless overeating. A few days of eating more indulgent foods or in larger portions is not going to sabotage your good habits and overall progress.
2. Don’t open that new chocolate box!
Take charge of your sugar intake before it becomes a habit. Make someone else happy by giving the chocolate boxes away. Having some sugar today will make you want more tomorrow, and probably again the next day, only... a bit more by then. Such is the nature of sugar, and this can be a highly addictive cycle.
Beyond the immediate pleasure, consuming sugar can result in a blood sugar crash as soon as the following day, triggering feelings of anxiety, irritability, fatigue or headaches. Essentially, it provides a brief moment of happiness but can diminish overall well-being long term.
The key? Avoid starting the sugary cycle altogether. Factor in your chocolate consumption as part of your planning. Many people find that the accumulation of sugar intake derails their progress, leaving them feeling off track by January and caught in the seemingly never-ending sugar rollercoaster.
As emphasised in point 1, this doesn’t mean that Christmas has been cancelled, it's about making conscious choices when it comes to what makes you feel good.
To help you during this time, we're pleased to be able to offer you our 10 Guilt-free chocolate recipes e-book.
And if you're yet to finish your Christmas shopping, you could make a batch to gift to loved ones! Who doesn't like a tasty, yet healthy homemade gift?
Wishing you all the happiest and healthiest Christmas.
From all of us at Advanced Nutrition.